Tag Archives: The Boot Pub

Remembering an Iconic Whistler Venue: The Boot Pub

With all the bands, concerts and events going on in Whistler in the summer, it’s easy to forget about the Boot Pub and all its past glory in laying the groundwork for the entertainment scene we know today.

The Ski Boot Motel and Bus, still under construction. WMSC Collection

For those who haven’t heard about it, the Boot Pub opened its doors in 1970 as part of the Ski Boot Lodge Motel at the corner of Highway 99 and Nancy Greene Way and soon became legendary.  It was a place where ski bums could lay their heads for just $5 a night, where travellers on a shoestring budget could find a relatively cheap place to stay in an increasingly expensive resort.

Sadly, the Boot served its last customers in 2006, but to this day nearly every longtime resident of Whistler has a story to tell about the bar and live-music venue – it even hosted the Tragically Hip along with other performers such as She Stole My Beer, The Watchmen, Michael Franti & Spearhead, D.O.A. and SNFU.

The Boot Pub hosted some incredible bands in its day, including The Watchmen pictured here (date unknown). Evans Collection

The Hip, one of the most popular bands in Canada, played a surprise concert at the Boot in 2003 – they had booked the venue under the band name The Fighting Fighters and their performance was top secret until they came out on stage to raucous applause.

While the design of the building and the weathered, cedar-shingle siding didn’t have any particular appeal to the eye, it became a place that captured the local lore of Whistler in its over three decades of operation.

Nicknamed the locals’ living room, it was comfortable and lively, a place where you could drink cheap beer and listen to great live music.

Brothers Peter and Stephen Vogler playing at Whistler’s famous Boot Pub in the late 90s. Photo: Chris Woodall, published in Stephen Vogler’s book “Only in Whistler. Tales of a Mountain Town”

It soon became one of the main social and cultural attractions of the growing town, helped by a few rowdy stories to lock in its notable reputation.  Many of these stories seem to include unique entrances, such as an Aussie bartender who rode into the pub on his horse (rather than hitching it to the post outside like others did), an ex-coach of the Crazy Canucks ski team riding his motorcycle in, and even someone arriving by snowcat.

While the Boot Pub operated mainly as a pub and a venue for live music, it was also notorious for hosting a different kind of live entertainment: the infamous Boot Ballet.  Yes, it was for many years Whistler’s exotic dance venue.

After over 25 years in business and a few ownership changes, the Boot closed just a few years after it was purchased by Cressey Development Limited, a Vancouver-based company.

The Boot Pub hosted a variety of acts, including Rainbow Butt Monkeys, today known as Finger Eleven. Evans Collection

It may have been inevitable that the Boot Pub would be subjected to redevelopment given its location within walking distance of the village, but there is little doubt that places like the Boot Pub were vital in helping to nurture Whistler’s famed ski culture, which attracted skiers and travellers from all over the world.

Whistler is a dynamic and compelling place and comparing the Whistler of today to the Whistler of the ’70s is almost impossible.  The resort is constantly undergoing changes to meet the demands and investments of an international destination resort, but looking back, it is clear that during the resort’s early days, the Boot Pub was more than just a local watering hole – it was where Whistler came to relax and share the stories that have become our history.

Angela Leong is one of two summer Collections Assistants at the Whistler Museum.  She will be returning to Simon Fraser University in the fall to continue her degree in Health Sciences.

Advertisements

Icon Gone: blow-by-blow

After weeks of steady preparations by Museum staff and intense training by the competitors, this past Sunday’s Icon Gone confirmed that Whistler’s greatest historical icon is none other than the beloved Boot Pub. Angie Nolan, assisted by Cathie Coyle, took home the glory after defending the Boot’s honour against Jamie Bond and Gaper Day, in an epic final showdown between an “Icon Gone” and an upstart icon-in-the-making.

Angie showing off her Icon Gone Championship belt while Jessica "Pika" Turner dons the crown (Angie felt the honours should be shared since Rabbit and the Boot Pub were inseparable in their day). A well-dressed Cathie Coyle looks on. (Belt designed "with love and angst" by the Whistler Arts Council's Andrea Mueller)

As promised, the competition was fierce. The new head-to-head format proved ruthlessly efficient, perhaps no more so than during the final first-round match-up when odds-on favourite Jessica “Pika” Turner’s heartwarming presentation about her father John “Rabbit” Hare was defeated by the eventual champions. The audience called for a tie, but Stephen Vogler and Jennifer Miller, who as judges were forced to pick just one, were swayed by Angie and Cathie’s theatrics.

Icon Gone ensures that community pillars like "the locals' living room" are gone but not forgotten.

The evening’s presentations were consistently compelling, but of widely divergent styles. Few dry eyes remained after Chris Quinlan’s touching tribute to late restauranteur Joel Thibeault or Hi Brooks’ case for an on-mountain memorial to fallen mountaineers, while Jamie Bond’s elaborate Gaper Day schtick and Jackson Crompton’s Broadway-style ode to Jeanie the Bear had the crowd crying with laughter (as did Jamie’s wry remark that Jack’s “bear” costume was actually a gorilla suit better-suited to Gaper Day during their semi-final showdown).

Unable to withstand Jamie's punishing verbal blows in the semis, Jackson/Jeanie secured the final podium spot with a little Aerosmith and aerobatics.

Kevin Damaskie delivered a deadpan recollection of The Whistler Answer that reinforced Whistler’s proud tradition of satire, while realtor and freestyle-ski queen Stephanie Sloan’s biography of Guiseppe Garibaldi was highly informative, but her narrow first-round elimination denied us the chance to learn of Whistler’s own “three wars.” Here are the final results:

Keeping the event running smoothly and the audience in stitches, Maureen Douglas returned to host the event for the fifth straight year. No one’s ego was safe from her razor-sharp wit. The GLC, a Whistler icon in its own right but a newcomer to the Icon Gone scene, proved the perfect venue for the informal community celebration.

Big thanks to everyone who came out, as well as the Province of BC, the GLC, Whistler Foto Source, Araxi, and Sushi Village for supporting what may have been the best Icon Gone yet. Tons of well-deserved credit goes to all of our competitors, judges, and MC for taking time out of their busy lives to take part in the event simply for the fun of it all (and perhaps some bragging rights). That’s what Icon Gone is all about!

Jamie wins over the evening's MC and judges with his Gaper Day gospel.